Hundreds of soldiers training at Fort McCoy take precautions during high heat, humidity

  • Updated: July 18, 2013 - 11:40 AM

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Soldiers and civilians involved in a special training exercise at a western Wisconsin military installation are taking extra precautions in the sweltering heat and humidity.

About 2,000 soldiers, airmen and civilian first responders from more than two dozen states are participating in the National Guard Bureau's annual Patriot training exercise at Fort McCoy, east of La Crosse.

Guard members and first responders trained in full firefighting gear and chemical suits Thursday when they responded to a simulated terrorist attack in La Crosse and tornado in Madison where the Wisconsin Joint Force Headquarters is located.

A couple of soldiers have been treated onsite for heat exhaustion Thursday when temperatures reached the low 90s for the third consecutive day.

Training leaders are pushing water, and as the heat rises during the day, more rest time is added in between exercises, according to Wisconsin National Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Rickert.

"Leaders are keeping an eye out for soldiers who may be suffering heat exhaustion," Rickert said.

The exercises assess the guard members' ability to respond to multiple emergencies and assist local and state first responders. The training identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each agency's response plan, according to the guard.

Military units from southern states are accustomed to the heat as well as combat veterans who have served time in Afghanistan and Iraq, Rickert said.

"Heat is something the military is very familiar with," he said.

During Rickert's deployment to Iraq in 2006-2007, the temperature rose to 140 degrees.

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